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Sunday October 20th 2019

Travel – Los Angeles: San Fernando Valley 3

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The Blue Room, Burbank
The Blue Room, Burbank

For a quick refreshment, press on to Burbank. Behind the deceptive corrugated front of The Blue Room, 916 South San Fernando Road at Alameda Avenue, Burbank, is a stylish neighbourhood bar, good for after-work drinks and with a rep for attracting studio execs. You’ve probably seen the Blue Room as ‘Ferdy’s Bar’, where Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss) puts the supposed short-term memory loss of Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) to the test by serving up contaminated beer in Christopher Nolan's Memento.

A Valley bar that looks this good is bound to have more than one screen credit and, indeed, it was also featured in Paul Schrader’s 1997 adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Touch, with Skeet Ulrich and Christopher Walken, as well as being the place where Nate (Jon Voight) is drinking when he gets a call from McCauley to get Van Zant’s address in Michael Mann’s Heat.

Golden Mall, Burbank
T-Rex on the rampage – Golden Mall, Burbank

Further northwest, as San Fernando Road becomes San Fernando Boulevard, between Palm Grove and Orange Grove, is Golden Mall, which was renamed with ‘San Diego’ street signs for The Lost World, Steven Spielberg’s follow up to Jurassic Park. It’s here that the disgruntled T-Rex goes on the rampage.

In the doorway of 301 San Fernando Boulevard (now GAP, this was A&S Books), the film’s screenwriter David Koepp (in a cameo as ‘Unlucky Bastard’) gets chomped by Rexy.

For a totally different experience from Universal, the real film buff will want to take the much smaller Warner Bros VIP Studio Tour, 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank. Surprisingly low-tech (especially if you’ve just experienced Kong in 3-D), this is a small-scale tour, by golf buggy, through the working studio, and though there are no animatronics or thrill rides, it’s advisable to book in advance. Hand on heart, it’s my favourite tour.

The WB backlot has its share of movieland history, where you can see the police station from Rebel Without a Cause, Vincent Price’s wax museum from House of Wax, the ‘Paris Street’ from Casablanca – and now of course the coffee shop from La La Land opposite, and the fire escape from which Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) dangled for the upside-down kiss in Spider-Man.

The brass plaques listing the films shot in each of the giant soundstages are guaranteed to take away the breath of any self-respecting movie buff – 42nd Street, Now, Voyager, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, The Treasure of Sierra Madre – just a few names from Stage 6.

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